CC Sabathia won’t be making his final start of the season, as the Yankees announced that the left-hander suffered a Grade 2 hamstring strain in his most recent start and will need eight weeks or so to recover.
So in one sense it’s actually good timing, because if Sabathia had injured his hamstring earlier in the season the Yankees would have been without him in the rotation for a couple months. On the other hand it’s an abrupt end to a very disappointing season that saw him allow the most earned runs in the league on the way to a career-worst 4.78 ERA in 211 innings.
Sabathia clearly wasn’t his old for most of the season, struggling to maintain his peak velocity after dealing with elbow problems last year. He pitched somewhat better than the ugly ERA would suggest, posting a solid 175/65 K/BB ratio, but his average fastball has fallen from 93.8 miles per hour in 2011 to 92.3 mph last year and 91.1 mph this season. For a 33-year-old with a ton of mileage on his arm, it’s a very worrisome trend.
The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.
Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.
Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.